September 2016


Introduction

In our previous post, we have looked at four metaphors that describe the word of God.

Part 1: The word of God is like Fire and Hammer
Part 2 : The word of God is like a Mirror And Rain
Part 3: The word of God is like a measuring line and a light
Part 4: The Word Of God Is a Double Edged Sword And Medicine

Let us continue our next metaphor

The Word OF God Is A Judge
“And if anyone hears My words
  and does not believe, I do not
  judge him; for I did not come to
  judge the world but to save the
  world. He who rejects Me, and
  does not receive My words, has
  that which judges him—the word
  that I have spoken will judge him
  in the last day.” – Jesus (Jn 12:47-48)

Jesus told us that the word of God is a judge. This is something all Christians must understand. Today there are many who choose not to believe in Christ. They do so not because of a lack of miracle. They choose not to believe in Jesus for they felt that  Jesus lack the appeal that attracts them.

The bible record of a man named Nathaniel, he was a man who seek the truth. But he felt that Jesus lack appeal. When Philip told him that he had found the messiah and he is from Nazareth, Nathaniel immediately commented, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Today many regarded Jesus as a son of a poor carpenter from Nazareth, some regarded him as a mere religious teacher. they find it hard to believe. That is why they remain unmoved even when they felt that his words are true.

There are also others who followed Christ but  pay no attention to his words. They followed Jesus because he can perform miracles and heal the sick. They followed Jesus because he can provide them with food. They do not ponder about the words of Christ. It is true that Jesus had the power to perform miracles and feed the hungry. But let us not labour for  food that perish. Let us not come to him for the sake of miracles.

We need to seek the word of God which can save us. In those days, many did not esteem the word of Christ. Which is why Jesus spoke those words we read earlier. Jesus came into the world to save sinners and he came to give sinners hope. But that does not mean that there is no judgement, he told us that in the last days his word is a judge.

That is why we need to change our perspective about the word of God. For they are not mere words from a prophet but a command from God. If one were to treat it with belief and goes against it. That word will judge us in the future.

Let us remember that the word of God is a judge. we can choose to receive it or reject it, those are the words that will judge us at the end.

How Do We Preach The Word?

When Jesus sent his disciples to preach the gospel. He instructed them to do this

If the household is worthy, let your
  peace come upon it. But if it is not
  worthy, let your peace return to you.
  And whoever will not receive you nor
  hear your words, when you depart
  from that house or city, shake off
  the dust from your feet.

   Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more
   tolerable for the land of Sodom and
   Gomorrah in the day of judgment 
   than for that city!” –Jesus (Mat 10:13-15)

They are suppose to greet peace to the family when they arrive. If the house is a household that is worthy to receive the peace from God. IT will stay with them. If they refuse to accept it, the peace ill return to us.

We often get upset with people who do not listen to the gospel when we preach it. But we need to remind ourselves that we have fulfilled our responsibility to preach the gospel. If they reject us, it is between them and God and we have done our part.

That is why Jesus says if they do not receive us, we should shake the dust off our feet and leave. For preaching the gospel is a way of passing judgement as well. We know that man had no right to judge, but yet we remember the words of Jesus saying

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you
  bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
  and whatever you loose on earth will
  be loosed in heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 18:18)

How is this authority given? That authority came from the word of God. Whenever we preach the word of God, those who believe will be set free. But for those who reject the word, their sin will remain in them. Eventually they will be judged by the word  of God.

That is why both the speaker and the listeners are important. For if we do not speak , the others will not hear and they will lose their chance of salvation. The same goes for the listeners, they have their right to reject the word of God. But they need to know the consequences of not listening to Gods word. Jesus once told us

For whoever is ashamed of Me
  and My words in this adulterous
  and sinful generation, of him the
  Son of Man also will be ashamed
  when He comes in the glory of His
  Father with the holy angels.”- Jesus (Matt 8:38)

As we read this we wonder why the Lord is so severe in this warning. This verse applies to both believers and non believers. That is why Paul exhorted Timothy not to be ashamed of the word of God. During that time in history, the church was persecuted, this discouraged many Christians and many did not want to believe in Christ anymore. 

Finding the courage to believe

It is often in times like this we lose our courage to preach the word of God. For many will question us saying “Why did God not help us? Why is his power not manifested? why are we facing so many adversities?”

Are we still able to find the courage to believe in Christ and preach his name? This is something we need to consider especially when the situation is making it hard for us to keep our faith. Sometimes our surrounding makes us feel ashamed of the gospel, it may even prevent us from attending services. That will make sharing the word of God a bigger challenge. 

But Jesus told us that if we are ashamed of him and the gospel, he will likewise be ashamed of us when he comes in his glory.  Let us esteem the words of God, especially in he face of great temptation. For by so doing we will be blessed and God will watch over us.

If we are aware of the preciousness of knowing God, we will be willing to suffer for it. We will choose to seek God even in the midst of weakness and illness. For God is watching us, he wanted to know how we would respond to him. He wants to know if we can hold on to him in times of great difficulty.

A man who is able to keep his faith will always be blessed by God. That is why the author of Hebrew tells us

“Therefore we must give the more
  earnest heed to the things we have
  heard, lest we drift
  away.” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:1) 

We must take heed whenever we listen to the words of God. For these words are not a result of man’s imagination. They are the words of God, revealed through his servants. Christian are suppose to treat the words of Jesus as the word of God. That is why we often called them the words of life. For we believe that they can grant us eternal life, they are the words that can deliver man from sin and judgement.

That is why we need to respect the words of God  and take heed to it. Perhaps in the past we think that  those words are mere theory. But let us change our mind set, for today we understand that the word of God is a judge. We need to meditate on them and remember them.

True Respect For The Word Of God

All of us are able to discern between people whom we respect and people we do not respect. If we do not respect someone, we will not pay attention to what he has to tell us. We will ignore them, and would not make an effort to remember. As they speak we allow our minds to drift away.

But we would treat the ones we respect differently. We would pay attention and ponder over his words. This is the attitude we ought to have when we are hearing the word of God. If we do not pay attention, we will slowly drift away.

We will only pay attention to things that interest us. Let us pay pay attention to the word of God. Let his words never drift away from us. For  the author of Hebrews reminds us.

“For if the word spoken through
  angels proved steadfast, and
   every transgression and disobedience received
   a just reward,”-Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:2)

The author of Hebrews was referring to the Old Testament which Moses received on Mount Sinai. In that Law every transgression and disobedience is given a just reward, everyone who went against the Law of God is judged quickly.  There are serious consequences in disobedience as those who went against the Law will be executed.

The Author of Hebrews continues telling us.

“how shall we escape if we neglect so
  great a salvation, which at the first
  began to be spoken by the Lord, and
  was confirmed to us by those who
  heard Him, God also bearing witness
  both with signs and wonders, with
  various miracles, and gifts of the Holy
  Spirit, according to His own will?” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 2:3-4)

If we need to pay attention to the Law of Moses, how could we neglect the words of Christ? The Law of Moses is given to him by angels, but in the new Testament God spoke directly as Jesus. His words are accompanied with  confirmation by miracles. It would be a great sin to neglect the word of God.

Considering The Value Of Gods Words

That is why we need to ask ourselves, “How much is the gospel worth in our hearts?” Our response to this question determines our attitude towards the gospel. If we regard the gospel as cheap words without value,  something that is good to have and can do without. Would we put in effort to study it?

In life we would not devote our time to study something that is trivial and valueless. We would only do it when we are bored and have spare time to kill.

But let us value the learning of the word of God, if we treat the words of God as entertainment to pass time, we may be guilty of blasphemy and mocking of the word of God.

A Christian who neglect the word of God will slowly drift apart from him. They will fail in faith and neglect their salvation. The Author asked “how shall we escape if we neglect so  great a salvation?”

Moses once said this to the Israelites before his departure from the world.

“Set your hearts on all the words
  which I testify among you today,
  which you shall command your
   children to be careful to observe—
  all the words of this law.

  For it is not a futile thing for you,
  because it is your life, and by this
  word you shall prolong your days
   in the land which you cross over
  the Jordan to possess.”- Moses (Deut 32:46-47)

Moses reminded the Israelites to take heed of the words of God. He knew that those Israelites that he led in the wilderness are not like him. He knew that God is about to take him from this world. That is why he reminded them one more time to put the words of God in their hearts. He assured them that it is not a futile thing to do, for it concern their lives as they lived in the land of Canaan.

In the same way, we must believe in the salvation of Jesus. For his words will judge us at the very end. Let us change our attitude towards the word of God. Let us re-establish our respect for it. For it is something that is not futile and it concern our lives.

We know that one day we will depart from this world, and we must let go of everything we possessed. That is when we realise only the word of God is important, for it will give us eternal life and hope. It can forgive our sins and help us face God in peace.

Let us look at the next metaphor in this study.

The Word Of God Is Food

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
  And Your word was to me the joy
  and rejoicing of my heart;
  For I am called by Your name,
  O Lord God of hosts.” – Jeremiah (Jer 15:16)

Prophet Jeremiah describes the word of God as food to eat. He treat it as the joy of his life and happiness. Do we feel the same way about the word of God? If we do, we will need it daily.

We know that if we do not eat, our body will grow weak. If we refuse food for a long period of time, we will eventually die.  It is not illness that kill us, but we die of hunger and malnutrition.  It is a sad sight to see someone die due to a lack of food.

In the same way, if a Christian fall to sin, it will bring us sadness as well. For we all aspire to be like Job who is able to stand firm even in the midst of trials. It is a waste to see someone fall from faith just because of his lack of esteem for the words of God.

For Jesus once said
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
  but by every word that proceeds f
  rom the mouth of God.’”- Jesus (Matt 4:4)

Let us not pursue physical food only, for there is also food that is used to feed our spirit. Only the word of God can give us spiritual growth and improve our spiritual lives. We know that our spiritual life is born through the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. It is given as a grace of God, for we did not do anything worthy to receive this grace.  But after receiving this grace, we must allow it to grow within us. Only the word of God can help us grow spiritually.

Peter once said
“Therefore, laying aside all
  malice, all deceit, hypocrisy,
  envy, and all evil speaking, 
  as newborn babes, desire the
  pure milk of the word, that
  you may grow thereby” – Peter (1 Pet 2:1-2)

Peter tells us that we are new-born babes and our job is to grow up. We need the pure milk of the word if we desire spiritual growth. The birth of a child is always mysterious, but after the birth of a baby they must continue to grow. As parents, we must feed the baby and let it grow. We will find time to feed the baby no matter how busy we are.

The same principles apply to growing spiritually. When we receive baptism, we are reborn and our sins are forgiven. Baptism marks the beginning of our life with Christ. It must grow in order to remain healthy.

A baby must desire the pure milk from the word of God. He cannot survive on snacks and sweets only. Milk is the only food that could give them the nutrition necessary to grow. Snack can be delicious but it will harm our body on the long run.

Sadly there are many Christians who desire snacks more than the pure milk of the world. They appear to have focus on their spiritual life, but we see no growth in their lives at all. They appear like people who eat a lot of food but yet does not gain any benefit from the food. They are unable to digest and the food eventually became waste that is passed out from the body.

The same thing can happen when we listen to the words of god. We understand that the word of God is like pure milk. We have seen many hearing it but they did not grow. Is there a fault in the words of God? Or is it our failure to digest the words of God.

This bring about a question “How can one digest the words of God?”

Gaining Strength By Mixing Faith With Hearing

The Author of Hebrew raised an important point regarding this matter.

“For indeed the gospel was
  preached to us as well as
  to them; but the word which
  they heard did not profit them,
 
not being mixed with faith in
  those who heard it.” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 4:2)

Why is it that the believers in the Old Testament were unable to benefit from the words of God? We read of how God appeared before them and wrote the words on the stone tablet himself. The people heard the word of god through scribes and prophets. Yet their faith are not established. that is because they did not mix faith with hearing.

Only faith can help us digest the words of God and to give us strength. If one does not have faith even if they listen to the word of God daily, they will not be able to gain strength from those words. For these words will remain forever as a mere oratorical speech talking about morality.  It will never become the words of God.

If one does not mix faith with hearing, they can never receive strength in life. That is why we need to have faith in the word of God. For without it, how can one accept Christ and repent from his sin? How could they be baptised for their sins to be forgiven? Why should they come for service?

They would rather choose to sleep at home than to come to church for service. They will never be able to find strength to come to church. Many Christians were able to remain in church for they regarded the church as the temple of God.

That is why we need to believe in the word of Jesus, to make the effort to come to the church. It does not matter how many of us are there to worship. For Jesus promise that as long as two or three gathered in his name, he would be among them. Let us believe in the words of Christ and we will find strength to gather. Let us consider some examples from the bible

Daniel Found Strength In The Lord

“And he said, “O man greatly
  beloved, fear not! Peace be
  to you; be strong, yes, be strong!”

  So when he spoke to me I 
  was strengthened, and said,
  “Let my lord speak, for you
   have strengthened me.”” – Daniel (Dan 10:19)

There was something that troubled Daniel and he cannot understand. As he fasted and pray, the revelation of God came upon him. The angel said to him ”Man greatly beloved, do not fear and be strong”

Daniel was trying to seek out what he doesn’t understand, he was troubled and weakened by the visions he sees. He was fearful and was unsure if he should continue.  But when the angel spoke, he received strength, he could bear what God wanted him to know.

Have we ever received such strength and comfort from the word of God? We often think that only great prophets like Daniel is able to experience it. Let us consider another example, this time, let us look at a woman of faith.

 The Example Of Mary

We know the story of Mary and how the angel Gabriel appeared before her. He called Mary the highly favoured one of the Lord. Mary was surprised by that greeting and she wonder what grace will be given to her.

Then the angel said that she will be with a child and he will be called the son of God. The Lord God will give him the throne of David  and his kingdom will be forever. Mary is supposed to be elated but she was worried and asked “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

the angel replied

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
  and the power of the Highest will
  overshadow you; therefore, also,
  that Holy One who is to be born
  will be called the Son of God.
 
Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative
  has also conceived a son in her old
  age; and this is now the sixth month
  for her who was called barren.”- Gabriel (Lk 1:35-36)

The words of Gabriel would have given Mary a lot of concern. For she had just been betrothed and if she is found to be pregnant. How can  Joseph and his family be able to accept it?  Even if she believed in the power of the Holy Spirit, but will other believe it? What is worst is that she may be stoned to death if everyone accused her of being pregnant before marriage.

But angel Gabriel said

  For with God nothing will be
  impossible.”- Gabriel (Lk 1:37)

If you truly believe in the word of God, you will get strength to do the impossible. It can help us get rid of our worries for we know that God will help us. Mary understood that it is the will of God that she will give birth to Jesus. She trust that God will help her and watch over her and resolve all her problem.

If Mary did not believe , she will not receive such a great grace. She had the simple faith to trust God.

Conclusion

Having a simple faith does not mean believing blindly. Mary heard the grace of God, she is aware of all the trouble that is to come. At the same time she is aware of the blessing that God will give her.  That is why she believed in the word of God and she is worthy for this grace.

We do not need to attain the perfection of Daniel in order to receive such a faith. For even Mary is able to have the same faith. Let us ask God to add to our faith and let us understand his words. They will be food for our lives if we believe in it.

If we truly believe in the word of God, our attitude in hearing and reading the bible will be different. We will find that God will add strength to us through  our faith. We need to believe in his words and we will gain strength from it.  May God strengthen each and everyone of us in faith.

Advertisements

Introduction

As Christians living on this earth, we are bound to face our own battles and fight. As long as life goes on, we will encounter pain and suffering. Nobody likes pain and suffering but we have to admit that they are part and parcel of life living on earth. There are times we encounter troubles and we find it hard to share them with our friends around us.

This is because sometimes they will give us a cold and unsympathetic response, while some will give us textbook answers such as “You need to pray and entrust them to God”. Many a times we find their comfort superficial and without any effect when it comes to helping us.

But today if we we understand that the Lord knows, it can help us find strength to face the difficulties and challenges ahead of us. Let us examine 2 aspect of our lives which the Lord knows.

 

Pt 1: The Lord Knows The Way That We Take

“But He knows the way that I take;
  When He has tested me, I shall
  come forth as gold.”- Job (Job 23:10)

Job was able to overcome the trials he encounter for he knew that the Lord knew the way which he takes, how he led his life on earth. Job did not understand why troubles came, and why he need to undergo sufferings. For he did not sin or commit a mistake, but yet the troubles arrives one after the other, and he understood that it was a trial from God.

How did Job arrive at this conclusion? That was because he knew that he is facing difficulties and they clause him pain.  But yet as God understood his difficulties and suffering, God did not attempt to save him from his suffering. That is how he knew it was a test from God.

If we truly  understand the fact that God knows our suffering and difficulties, we would know that God is walking beside us in the midst of our suffering. He is walking it with you, and we do not need to worry that the suffering will clause us to fail in faith.  Neither should we worry that the suffering will go beyond our ability to bear. For God is watching, he knows how heavy our burden is and he would not add to what we cannot bear.

That is why Paul reminds us that God will not abuse us and purposely make life difficult. But yet as we think about this a question often comes to our mind”. “Why is it that we feel that we cannot bear our suffering?”

Indeed if the suffering is short, we will know we can overcome it. We can bear with it no matter how painful it is. For we know it is only a short temporary period of suffering. But what happens when our suffering is prolonged? That is when we feel weak and our hearts is weary .It is not that our burdens have increased, but our weariness is making the problem harder to bear.

That is why even the Psalmist reminds us, that God knows our weakness and tiredness

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
  Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
  As they pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping) ,
  They make it a spring;
  The rain also covers it with pools.
  They go from strength to strength;
  Each one appears before God in Zion”- Sons Of Korah (Ps 84:5-7)

Example of Jesus In Gethsemane

Let us examine one example given to us in the bible, let us think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. At that point of time, he felt sorrowful, it was not just ordinary sorrow, he was sorrowful onto death. His sweat fell like drops of blood.

There are some who think that was Hematirosis, and it is a rare condition. It occurs when one is facing extreme stress and acute fear, at that point of time Luke tells us, an angel appeared and added strength onto him. As the result, Jesus found the strength to bear the bitter cup.

Indeed Jesus knows our weakness, he will add strength onto us as we face our difficulties. He can help us overcome our weakness and difficulties, we will emerge stronger than who we were previously. That is why Job said “When He has tested me, I shall   come forth as gold.”

This is one of the important reason why Job overcame his difficulties, for he knew that God is aware of our troubles, and he is our source of strength. Today our lives on earth in the journey of faith is just like the days where Israel walked in the wilderness during the time of Moses. It was God who called Israel to walk in the wilderness, it was a long and difficult journey. It is an empty an barren land, but Israel finished their journey by obeying God.  For it is the path God told them to go, and God knew the way they walked. No matter how difficult and dangerous the path ahead is, God will help them through it. They can overcome all obstacles by relying on God, they found courage and finish the journey.

That is why we need to understand that God knows the way we walk and he will help us.

 

Pt 2: God Already Know What He Will Do

“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and
  seeing a great multitude coming
  toward Him, He said to Philip,

  “Where shall we buy bread,
     that these may eat?”

  But this He said to test him, for
  He Himself knew what He would 
  do.”- John (Jn 6:5-6)

The four gospels all talked about the miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fishes. But only the book of John recorded this observation made by John.  Jesus asked Philip “Where can we get bread for these to eat?”. He said it as a test for Phillip for he already knew what he would do. He wanted to see what his disciples would do.

Let us examine the reaction and actions taken by the disciples

Phillip’s Approach To The Test

“Two hundred denarii worth of
  bread is not sufficient for them,
  that every one of them may have
  a little.” – Phillip (Jn 6: 7)

Phillip saw the need and the magnitude of the problem, he saw the little resources that he had. He had at the most, 200 denarii of coins, roughly 6.5 month worth of salary for a single worker.  Even if he used all his money to buy bread, they can all but eat only a little bit of bread. Therefore he concluded that there is nothing he can do, why waste the money on what that cannot work?

Phillip is not wrong, his thinking and estimation are all sound and correct. His reaction is reasonable and fair but he forget to include one more aspect to his estimation. He had forgotten the authority and power of Jesus.

Even though Jesus is right beside him, he did not rely and trust in his power, we are guilty of doing this at times. Whenever we face a major problem and we knew that our strength is unable to overcome it, we forget to factor in the power of Jesus.

it is not that Phillip had never seen miracles performed by Jesus , he ought to have faith and rely on Jesus. But when Jesus tested him and told him to get bread to feed the multitude. He just made an estimate and concluded that it is something impossible to achieve.  For he only had 200 denarii and it would be unwise to waste it on a solution that cannot help.

Phillip only relied on his mind, wisdom, foresight and planning, he made use of everything that is before his eyes but he neglected the power of Jesus. In fact Jesus already knew what he wanted to do, he just wanted to see what Phillip is thinking. He wanted to know how Phillip will face this problem  and solve it.

Phillip did not past the test given to him by Jesus.

Andrew’s Approach To The Test

“There is a lad here who has five
   barley loaves and two small fish,
   but what are they among so many?”- Andrew (Jn 6:9)

Like Phillip, Andrew understood the magnitude of the problem, that is why he knew that 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes cannot help much. If Phillip and his 200 denarii cannot resolve this problem, how would 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes help?

But Andrew did not reject the little boys contribution, he knew that even though it did not help much, but Andrew did his part as a disciple, he took the little food and gave them onto the hand of Jesus. He wanted to see what Jesus will do with it, if he was willing to perform the miracle.

At that point of time, he did not know if Jesus would perform the miracle. But if the Lord is willing to do so, the problem will be resolved on the spot. Like Phillip he heard Jesus instructing Phillip to buy bread so they could eat. It appear as though Jesus was not prepared to perform the miracle.  For Jesus already give his instruction and told them to find a solution and get bread.

But where can they find the money to do so? Even if they have the money, where can they buy bread in the wilderness? He did not care about the situation and facts around him, he just took the bread and fishes and gave it to Jesus. Andrew wanted to see that Jesus would do and this is something we need to learn.

The Problem Of Preaching The Gospel

Today we are often faced with a big problem, we can see many around us who are in need. But how can we find strength to deal with it? Our strength is so limited. This is true especially in the work of the gospel today, there are many who need to hear the gospel but there are so little who are willing to preach.

What is worst is that when we are prepared to share, we are plagued with many troubles and difficulties, if we cannot even help ourselves, how can we try to help others?  What is more is that Jesus did not want us to preach only around us, we are suppose to carry this gospel message to the end of the world.

When we think of this we feel ashamed of ourselves, the work is so great and our power is so small. We did not just find sharing the gospel difficult, we even face crisis in our own faith. There are many around who find our gospel hard to believe, some even doubt and pose challenges to us. When we examine our own resources, indeed it look like 5 loaves and 2 fishes. We are limited by manpower, financial resources, and we know how limited we are.

So how can we resolve this problem? This is something we need to consider

Our Response To The Challenge

It is true that we only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, and the number we need to attend to are more than 5000. In face of this fact, will we respond like Phillip and just give up? Many Christians today responded like this, for the more they tried to preach the more tired they become. It seem as though no matter how hard we try, the end result is the same. That’s is why we reply like Phillip “There is nothing we can do”.

Let us not be like this, let us learn to be like Andrew. Let us do what we can even though it is only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. They may not look like a great help in the midst of all these troubles. But we have a responsibility to place it in the hands of Jesus.  Let him decide if he wants to perform miracles with it or not.

We will never know what Jesus would do with our 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. As we place this in his hand let us remind ourselves.. Jesus already knew what he will do. He is watching us to see what we will do.

Sometimes we tend to forget that Jesus already knew what he wanted to do. Sometimes we make response such as “If God will not do it, why must we put in our effort to do something?”

Indeed there are many times we wish God were to speak out just for once and everybody will listen to him. We know that if God is willing to help us, all our problem will be resolved. But yet we see God doing  nothing, and we asked “Why is it that you are unwilling to help us?”

Some of us sigh helplessly”If God wont do anything, what’s the point of us doing something?”

As the result we start to behave like Moses who once pushed the blame onto God. 

Learning To Work With God By Doing Our Part

“Why have You afflicted Your servant? 
  And why have I not found favor in Your
  sight, that You have laid the burden
  of all these people on me?

  Did I conceive all these people?
  Did I beget them, that You should say to me,
  ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a
   guardian carries a nursing child,’ 
  to the land which You swore to
  their fathers?” – Moses (Num 11:11-12)

At that point of time, the children of Israel was complaining to Moses in the wilderness. They accused him of bringing them out there to die for they have no meat to eat. Moses was angry and he said this to God.

Sometimes we face with a similar problem, especially when we serve God. That is often the time we tell ourselves to give up and not care about the problem. We wanted to push the blame to God saying he did nothing to help us.

But today if we understood what John meant when he said God knew what he would do and he is watching us to see what we will do. We will choose to believe in him and rely on him .At the same time, we would do whatever within our means to help.

“I planted, Apollos watered,
  but God gave the increase.”- Paul (1 Cor 3:6)

This is an important concept we need to understand whenever we face difficulties in life. More so when we are working for God. Whenever we face difficulties, let us remember these words.  Let us remember that we can only do the job of planting and watering. It is beyond our ability to let it grow.

God only wanted us to do what we can, to our best ability. It doesn’t matter if we are facing life’s problem or difficulties in service, God will not make us do what we cannot do, he want us to work with him.

We can only do what we can do, that is to plant and to water. It is God who let it grow. The result is beyond us only God can do it. This is an important concept we need to hold, both when serving God and facing life problem.

Learning To Rely On God Through Prayer

That is why today whenever we face difficulties in life and in service. We need to know what we can do within our power. We need to do them and entrust what is beyond our control to God. And God will help us. We must be willing to place our 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes before God.

But as we say this, some may accuse me of giving them the “textbook answer”. 

Some may even retort “What is it that we can do? What is our responsibility?”

The most basic of all is to pray to God and tell him our problem. But yet now as I said this,  I would be accused of giving another "textbook answer”. For many of us think that prayers are not effective. But why is it so?

One of the most common response we get it  
“Look, I repeated my request again and 
  again to God. I waited  but God did not
  take any action.”

This is one of the typical response where we conclude and say “What is the point of prayer?”.

Maybe we should approach this dilemma in a different direction. Let us examine ourselves rather than God. Let us ask if we are praying correctly. Let us examine some of the prayers made by the ancient saints.

EG 1 : Hezekiah Prayer Before God

2 Kings 18 and 19 talks about a King named Hezekiah. He encountered a huge problem as a king. During that time the armies of Assyria came and attacked him. The enemy is lead by a general known as Sennacherib.  They told Hezekiah that their God will not save them from the Assyrians and they have a point. For if war broke out between Judah and Assyrian, Judah would not be able to defend herself.

Therefore the enemy wrote a long letter, telling Judah not to trust in God.

In face of such problem Hezekiah only did one thing

“And Hezekiah received the letter
  from the hand of the messengers,
  and read it; and Hezekiah went up
  to the house of the Lord, and
  spread it before the Lord” – Chronicler (2 Kings 19:14) 

If we read his prayer from 2 Kings 19:15-19 we can see a few points. Hezekiah knew whom he believed in and who he was praying to. He was talking to the God who created earth, the one who made kings and rulers,  kingdom and nations.  He is the true and living God, different from the gods who the other nation worship.

Hezekiah’s faith is similar to the faith of David when he faced Goliath. He pleaded with the Lord to save Judah and God indeed answered his prayer. That very night an angel was sent into the enemies camp and all the soldiers was killed overnight. Sennacherib had to return home with no army to accompany him.

Hezekiah’s prayer would not have succeeded if he did not know whom he is praying to.  Hezekiah also did not demand God to do what he want, he just pleaded for his help. Hezekiah’s prayer made us consider 2 question.

1. When we pray, do we know whom we are speaking to?
2. Do we pray to God giving him orders or do we ask God to help us in his way?

EG 2 : The Prayer Of The Early Church In Face Of Difficulty

We shared earlier that no human being enjoy encountering difficulty in life. Whenever we are in trouble in our prayer we tend to ask God to take our difficulty away. But yet many a time God did not seem to accede to our request. Our problem  continue to happen, eventually we become discourage and we say that prayer didn’t work.

But have we wonder if the ancient saints ever ask God to take away their problem? When the church began in the book of Acts, there were many miracles that are perform. Yet the Jews did not believe, they threatened the apostles not to teach the name of Jesus. 

Therefore the church gathered to pray about the problem, but did they ask God to remove the problem? “

“Now, Lord, look on their threats,
  and grant to Your servants that
  with all boldness they may speak
  Your word,  by stretching out Your
   hand to heal, and that signs and
  wonders may be done through
  the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” – The church (Acts 4:29-30)

The church did not ask God to take away their troubles, but they ask God to grant them boldness to continue to testify for Jesus in the midst of these problem. They pleaded with God to show more miracles to help hem so that they can continue to preach in the midst of the trouble.

We knew from history that their situation only got worst, disciples were killed and imprisoned.  Yet the gospel continue to prosper in the midst of these persecution.  The Holy Spirit grant them boldness courage and bravery to stand up in the midst of these difficulties and trials.

We have the right to ask God to take trouble away from us through prayer. But sometimes God allowed it to happen, and sometimes God just hoping that we can pray to him for help, for more strength to handle, and the courage to continue to serve him.

If our prayer is according to his will, he will grant the strength for us to continue. For we see the disciples eventually preaching the gospel far and wide. 

 

EG 3: Making Plans And Prayer

Very often we pray to God asking for help, and when we do so, we stop doing and started watching. We sit there passively waiting for miracles and Gods direction. When God remain silent, we continue to wait and do nothing. At the end of it, we become discourage, we stop praying and we no longer trust God.

We may pass comment such as “We have waited on the Lord, but why did he not give us strength? Didn’t Isaiah tell us that those who wait on the Lord will receive strength?”

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
  And the young men shall utterly fall,”
  But those who wait on the Lord
  Shall renew their strength;

  They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
  They shall run and not be weary,
  They shall walk and not faint.”- Isaiah (Is 40:30-31)

But do we really understand what it means to wait onto the Lord?  Waiting on the Lord is not something passive. We need to continue to walk,than we will not faint. We need to run and then we would not be weary. You have to continue walking and running, then we can mount out with wings like the eagle and receive strength.

Praying to God does not mean that we no longer do anything. We are suppose to continue to make plans and to entrust our plans to God and let him guide us. That is how Apostle Paul relied on God to help him.

“Now when they had gone through
  Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
  they were forbidden by the Holy
  Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

  After they had come to Mysia, they
  tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit
 
did not permit them.

  So passing by Mysia, they came down
  to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul
  in the night. A man of Macedonia stood
  and pleaded with him, saying, “Come
  over to Macedonia and help us.”” – Luke (Acts 6:6-9)

Paul was eager to preach the word of God and he knew it is within Gods will. But God had forbidden him to go to some of the places he wanted to go. But Paul did not passively just pray and wait, he continued to make plans. He did not stop preaching, nor did he just pray and do nothing.

As Paul continue to move , he asked God to guide him. Finally he saw the vision of the Macedonian man. Then he headed toward Macedonia and started to preach.

Waiting for God is not a passive work, we do not just wait and do nothing. As we pray to God to guide us, we need to continue to put in our effort to do what we can do.  Eventually God will move us through his spirit and guide us where to go.

WE need to remember that God plan may not be what we want, that is when we need to be submissive and respond to the calling of God.

 Conclusion So Far

So far we studied that the Lord knows 2 things and we need to keep them in our hearts.

Firstly he knew the way we walk, he knows our faith our strength as well as our weakness. IF we rely on him, he will not allow us to fall in our trials. For he know how much we can take and he will not give us a test we cannot handle

Secondly, we learnt that God already knew what he wanted to do. Many a times he wanted to see how we would react to his test.

We also discussed one of the most basic thing we can do is to pray about our problems. We covered 3 aspect of prayer. Firstly we need to know whom we are praying to and rely on him. Secondly we need to ask God for strength to overcome our difficulty instead of asking for the problem to be removed. Lastly we need to continue to work and do what we can while we entrust our problem to him in prayer. 

May God help us in all our difficulties and give us strength to finish our walk of faith.